And then there were 3 in Cyclones QB battle

Barnett, Jantz and Richardson to compete for ISU's No. 1 role

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April 1, 2014 | 2:19 am

AMES — All work, no talk.

Iowa State’s three potential starting quarterbacks for Saturday’s 6 p.m. Big 12 matchup against Baylor (3-3, 0-3) at Jack Trice Stadium are off-limits to media this week.

"I have the right to do that," Cyclone Coach Paul Rhoads said lightheartedly Sunday night.

Yes, he does.

Rhoads and his staff are looking for much more than words from Jared Barnett, Steele Jantz and Sam Richardson anyway.

Behind-the-scenes success with the usual buzz terms — accuracy, decision-making, execution — will be gleaned from reps roughly split evenly this week among the top three ISU playcallers.

"We’ll see who has a great week of practice," said Rhoads, who started Barnett in Saturday’s 31-10 loss at Oklahoma State, but played erstwhile starter Jantz in the fourth quarter. "That’s exactly what Jared did last week. That’s why he was the starting quarterback for that game."

Barnett — in his second straight start — shined early against the Cowboys, leading the Cyclones (4-3, 1-3) to a 10-7 lead. He completed 7-of-12 first-quarter passes, including a touchdown to Quenton Bundrage, but threw an interception while connecting on 12 of his next 27 throws.

Jantz, who started the first four games of the season but struggled with turnovers, completed 4-of-9 passes Saturday for 34 yards.

He also embarked on an ill-fated run on fourth down and 14 at the Oklahoma State 20-yard line late in the game that ended up gaining four yards.

"I thought he looked good," Rhoads said. "Scrambling on fourth and 14 is something you can’t do. You’ve got to scramble and find a way to throw — especially at that point in the game. That was disappointing and he hung his head on that one."

Enter Richardson, a confident but green red-shirt freshman who has yet to throw a collegiate pass, but did rush two times for 25 yards in the Sept. 15 rout of Western Illinois.

"He’s probably the most natural thrower out of the three guys," Rhoads said. "He doesn’t look athletic when he runs, but he’s effective. He’s getting more aggressive as the leader of the offense and needs to see that translated in his decision-making."

Rhoads said he was surprised to see Barnett eventually falter after Saturday’s hot start. Barnett also served as a catalyst in ISU’s 37-23 upset win at Texas Christian three weeks ago and won an under-wraps quarterback competition last week.

"Usually game week preparation leads to game day execution," Rhoads said. "There’s not a finer young man on our team."

INJURY UPDATE:

Rhoads said he’s hopeful both receiver Josh Lenz (quadriceps) and tailback James White (knee) will be available to play Saturday.

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